Advantages Superb range at competitive prices
Disadvantages Disabled access could be improved
|Frequency of visit|
|Value for Money|
|Layout & presentation|
|Selection & range|
|In store customer service|
Hamley's Toys in Oxford Street is supposed to be the holy grail of children toyshops, but a Leicester shop is throwing down the gauntlet to be the king of toy supplies.I suppose I have always been aware of the original shop in Carts Lane, because I frequented a tobacconists next door, and the gaily yellow coloured miniature fairground lego wheel always caught my eye, placed as it was in the Dominoes window.
Since those early days, Dominoes has expanded into a wonderful labyrinth of three interconnecting shops, with the main entrance now facing the car-park entrance to the Shires shopping centre in Leicester's High Street. Children in cars, awaiting the drudgery of shopping with their parents in the car park queue are now amused with the view of Dominoes toys on four floors.The basement of the shop contains an array of Models, (such as Airfix) train sets and action figures where usually the male of the species can be found.
The original Carts Lane shop oasis became a fountain upstairs to the ground floor level, where more traditional toys of the dolly and action man persuasion became more common place. With more space, the business became more and more successful irrigating into the store which became available from the High Street frontage. The two shops were converted into one, almost seamlessly, to make a dramatic effect now.Upon entering the High Street entrance a train engine whizzes round at just above head level (drawing the analogy with Hamleys) and gaily coloured marbles at eye level, for pocket money purchases, which will bring gasps of delight from the children. During Christmas time, when it is all lit up, is particularly enthralling. Here you will find educational, activity, interactive, soft and outdoor toys and the early children arts and crafts upon which the store was based. Here kids will marvel at all the beads, shapes, coloured bangles, sewing kits etc that they can stick, sew, glue and paint to their hearts content by making that special Mummy's / Fathers day card etc. It also includes a number of books on the various techniques employed. A separate section is allocated to construction toys; Lego, Meccano and Connect bricks including tables for the children to play.
The first floor is slightly more juvenile offering mostly pre-school age toys, notably playmobile, playclothes, dolls, and those all important - Toilets ! The second floor continues the theme of the older you get the more stairs you have to climb, with collectables and football memorabilia.The collectables section deserves a special mention because of its age range content. 'Collectables' range from Beanie Babies for the very young - with current price lists for all those retired BB's - to the other extreme of lead soldiers and period chess sets for the, ahem, more mature child (koff). A football memorabilia section includes gift items for young football fans from shirts to mugs.
The quality of the products are served by the most popular children manufacturers: Lego, Meccano, Action Man, Barbie, Fisher Price. All of the toys I saw conformed to the EU - CE marking directive (http://www.ce-marking.org/directive-88378eec-toys.html). Dominoes is a member of the British Association of Toy Retailers (BATR)Staff service is generally excellent, with informed product knowledge, however, the football memorabilia section was staffed by youngsters on my visit who were more intent on discussing their latest mobile phone than in serving the customer. Hopefully that was a bad day.
Disability access is rather weak overall, with a split level on the ground floor and multiple stairs to climb for other floors. This shop desperately needs a lift for the disabled to gain access to the other floors. The other thing this shop needs is more play space where you could leave your little ones in safety while briefly shopping. The advent of the new third store I hope will accommodate these concerns.Availability of goods is generally good, particularly considering the stock holding, and you could check on the web before you make the journey at www.dominoes-highstreet.co.uk A mail order service is also supplied.
Whether you are shopping for a teddy for your nearest and dearest, or a train set for your toddler or the collectable mandarin chess sets for the more mature, you cannot fail to be impressed by the range of stock and reasonable prices for "children" of all ages. Your child will spend hours in wonderment and will stand aghast at the sheer expanse of this shop. Catering for every pocket, from the childs pocket money to grandparents gift shop, it draws custom from far and wide. This shop could while away hours for a young child which may well be cheaper than a days visit to some theme parks, giving the experience of visual stimuli being far and away a distinct advantage over internet shopping. I would strongly recommend a visit.Since I have never needed to bring anything back, in twelve years, I cannot comment on the after sales service, but that in itself speaks volumes for the quality of their goods. Apart from my last visit, I have never had to wait long to be served either. Only the disability access prevents me from giving the full accolades this shop deserves.
Further Info:Dominoes Toy Shop
Tel: 0116 2533363www.dominoes-highstreet.co.uk
UPDATE:Since writing this op a lift has been made available to the public and larger play areas have been addressed assisted by the movement into another building.
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